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196 days, 7126 tweets…and I still don’t get it

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pracktica[1]OK. I guess I’m a little slow.

I’m one of those people who didn’t get Twitter in the first place and it was only at the urging of @respres and @gotbob during my first #rebcva that I signed on.  They were having a little session about Twitter and what it was all about and I took the plunge.  Something about a cocktail party. Anyway, I started getting followers. Hey, who doesn’t like followers?  But, they were either other Realtors (shades of Facebook!) or they were porn queens.

Now, I don’t have anything against either group, per se, but there is only so much cocktail party chatter one can make with people in one’s own profession (“Whaddya think about those new FHA guidelines?”) and the porn queens just wanted some money.  I hung in there, though, and tried to “engage”.  I was successful with some, not so much with others. And, most importantly, like Facebook, I haven’t realized a dime of real estate business from all this “engagement”. Not from Realtors (although I did get a referral from @DeanOuellette that didn’t quite pan out. Sorry, Dean.), not from porn queens, not from the myriad of tweeple who love to tweet motivational quotes, not from the gazillion marketers who want me to sign up for their program to get a gazillion Twitter followers. No one.

So. What’s the deal?  As far as I can make out, Twitter is a slow motion Instant Message Board.  If you’re on it and you happen to stay on long enough to read a reply to one of your tweets, you’re lucky.  Otherwise, I check my @ replies and see something someone left (maybe) 8 hours ago after I hopped off to, er, work.

Please fill me in here. What am I missing?

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Eric Hempler

    April 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I haven’t met anyone that has received business from Twitter. The typical consumer isn’t on Twitter. They’re definitely not on it to find a Realtor. Real Estate will always be about face to face contact. Facebook is ok to remind your friends, the friends that aren’t Realtors, you’re in Real Estate. Blogs are good if you have the time to write about your expertise. Otherwise it’s about calling people for about 2-3 hours every morning.

  2. mike gibbons

    April 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Ken i tried it too.. really gave it a good shot – frankly if I’m spending time connecting – its on Facebook where I can -easily post a photo, and link or video — and I can wax a little bit more linguistically – I want to love Twitter and i see where it can be valuable – but limited time it s not wining my time share now

  3. Fred Romano

    April 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Twitter is very useful in some ways, not for real estate though. For example, I have a lot of web designers on my follow list, and I am able to get lots of good ideas from them. I also follow some of my favorite celebs and musicians. For that it’s awesome.

  4. Nobu Hata

    April 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I’m an admitted late-adopter of things that smell – at least initially – like a waste of time. I started using Twitter, October of last year, to simply see who was going to RealtorCon, and I still couldn’t find an applicable business use for it (all the SocialMedia gurus/ninjas using it don’t to go mainstream Realtor conventions apparently). But I tell you what I did find after tracking hashtags (#mpls, #mn) and trends instead of people: here in Minneapolis, there’s a huge community of PR/Marketing/Design folks using Twitter to communicate and network with each other. I was one of a handful of Realtors interacting with them, and several referrals later, I’m a convert. Not only is Twitter a fantastic communications tool, used correctly (trends, hashtags, interaction), it can be leveraged into real-life business.

    On top of that, these people became huge parts of our BarCamp, providing insight and perspective from different industries into ours. How’s that for cross-pollinization of ideas?

    So while people can be a waste of time, trends/tags might be a better use of your Twitter time. I have to think the MD/DC area has to have the same, if not bigger, network of untapped business.

    • Ken Montville

      April 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks for the tips, Nobu. I’ll see what I can find.

  5. chris

    April 25, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I agree , not a great way to generate business but I find it useful for getting information from other parts of the country, I have learned alot from other post BUT I do not consider it a place to genrate actual business which is why I find it useful for MY NEEDS. EDUCATION-RUMORS-THOUGHTS-IDEAS

  6. Brian Block

    April 25, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    That’s a lot of tweets in 196 days if those are your true numbers. I’m not even close to that after nearly 2.5 years on Twitter. While I do know people who have gotten direct business through Twitter, I believe it’s few and far between. I (almost) had a closed referral directly from Twitter (but like you it didn’t pan out in the end).

    I have seen some other benefits from Twitter however, including networking with some prominent people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, both inside and outside of real estate, and keeping up on some of the latest tools, interesting articles, etc. It’s also been fun.

    Twitter has helped also with some publicity, and web/blog traffic. It’s also great for following along with certain events, conferences, etc.

    Don’t give up on it.

    • Ken Montville

      April 25, 2010 at 5:18 pm

      Hey, Brian

      I guess I must be trying to hard. The 7,126 tweet number comes from Twitter itself and the 196 days comes from how long Twitter Counter has been tracking me so my actual time on Twitter might be longer. When was the #rebcva in Frederickburg? I can’t remember. That’s where I signed up.

      I agree that there are some interesting URLs. I haven’t really connected with the “prominent people”, though (other than yourself, of course!). Fun? Sure. I’m on board for that part of it.

  7. Benn Rosales

    April 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    So you’re not selling enough cards? What’s your business focus on your profile? What are we missing here?

    • Ken Montville

      April 25, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      Point well taken, Benn. However, I just recently (about 3 weeks ago) put the cards website in my bio. Previously, it has always been my personal real estate blog. However, you’ve shamed me into converting it back to the real estate blog website. However, my guess is that rarely do people click on the URL. Maybe I’m wrong.

      In any case, should I be “social/casual” in my bio or should I put “I AM your REALTOR of CHOICE in the MD Suburbs of DC. CLICK HERE to use my services.”

  8. Benn Rosales

    April 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I give you all benefit of the doubt on all of that, I went to follow the circle and it deadened with cards.

    I browsed back about 10 pages of tweets and think you do a marvelous job maintaining focus with your account, you’re not ass kissing or brown nosing, it seems very open and professional so you have room to question.

    Change your static url to a tracking url (Lani uses bit.ly) and find out how many clicks you’re actually getting.

    Rather than clicking back to your blog directly, have them click to a twitter landing page that welcomes them, tells them a little about who you are, and what you specialize in.

    On the same page, bullet point things they can do right now on your website, search, read the blog etc – utilize tracking here as well to find popular points of interest.

    In your bio on twitter ask folks to learn more about you, be direct, and clever.

    Do an assessment of your actual followers, learn who’s local, and highlight (showcase) them on your blog, especially if they’re a nearby small biz.

    I’ll have a look at your blog later on, but remember this all should be circular, draw it out on paper if you need to, include FB, LI, and Twitter as well.

    • Benn Rosales

      April 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      btw, that nearby small biz you’re showcasing this month? If you get any traction on it from Twitter, throw a tweetup there…

      and the reason you’ll want to do the same things using FB and LI is to learn where you’re most strongest. There are 3 identifiable types of atmospheres that one will normally fit within and do well. FB – Familial TW – Causual LI Professional. Not every social network works well with every personality, focus on the one that fits you best, and you’ll know it by the tracking of campaigns you’re trying in each one.

  9. Anna Altic

    April 26, 2010 at 11:50 am

    So glad you wrote this because I personally feel that the potential for Twitter is limitless but after two library books and lots of playing with it, I don’t feel like I use Twitter anywhere near it’s potential. The “interactive” quality of FB is much easier for me to understand. This is the first year I have noticed many of my former clients and friends start posting on my wall about a Real Estate need they have so I know this works and I wonder if I weren’t so easily available if they would have gone another direction. I do believe that same potential is there with Twitter, particularly with generating new leads. I would love to see someone in action using the hashtags, trends, and interaction as referenced by Nobu in his commment. Ben Wow! I need you to dissect my world too. Ken, thanks for being so frank about not getting it. It’s opened up to door to some really useful advice.

    • Nobu Hata

      April 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      I started using Tweetdeck as an aggregator, then started following a couple prominent journalists in my town. One in particular was an early adapter of Twitter – @derushaj – who really kicked open the door for me. I started following some of his hashtags and peeps who had something to say, which led to more and more local folks who look – to me anyways – as thought leaders in their industry here in town, all thanks to hashtag trend watching.

      Honestly, I do think there isn’t much of a need for “focus” in your Twitter account, per se. I can “focus” my tweets using hashtags to speak to and interact with specific communities on Twitter – all at once – with great effect. What’s the point in focus when your message could get lost amid the noise of Twitter on other users’ Tweetdeck/Hootsuite/what have you, page?

  10. BawldGuy

    April 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Aside from gaining roughly 8-13% of my blog traffic from Twitter, a marginal benefit at best, it’s pretty much been useless. I have enjoyed the social aspect, meeting some pretty interesting people. I realize there are some who’ve leveraged Twitter magnificently, their group is so small as to appear to be the exception proving the rule.

    My tweeting has fallen by roughly 80-90% the last several months. I figure two years is a solid test.

  11. Michael Bertoldi

    April 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I think what some may be missing is targeting. I use my personal account @michaelbertoldi for the “cocktail party.” I talk to other marketing people, other realtors, etc. there. But, of course they won’t provide direct business, unless it’s referrals. I’ve also got an account for our office. I’m going to compare that one to yours. From there I talk to people in Huntsville – regardless of their profession. Chime in about anything and everything.

    Benn is right, you need a strategy and it should include several places, not just twitter. But since this is about twitter, I’d suggest talking to people in your city.

    Go to search.twitter.com and type in stuff like “moving to Fulton” or “house, fulton.” Then go to advanced search. Try a blank search but scroll down and search within 15 miles of your Fulton, MD. Talk to people about anything. If I was in your city and said going to get mexican for lunch, ask me which mexican place I’m going to. If you’ve been there, ask if they’ve tried your favorite dish. That’s engagement. And it may never pan out or when they do decide to buy or sell they may say hey, I’ve been talking to Ken on twitter, I’ll get in touch with him. Get to know the people in your city through twitter. If you get to know enough, hopefully you’ll find some in the market.

    Just saying. Don’t give up on it.

  12. Stacie Durnford

    April 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I agree with Michael. While I’m new to Twitter, I find that many real estate professionals tend to mix information on their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. that have no relevance to our clients (buyers and sellers). Potential buyers do not care about what you are doing as a real estate agent to advertise your business….they want to know about the real estate market and the home buying process or the neighborhood you profess to be an expert in.

    So pick a purpose and create a plan for your Twitter (blog, Facebook, etc.)…or create multiple. If you want clients (potential, current, past) to follow you on Twitter, then you need to provide them with information that is useful to them. Create value. If you want to use your Twitter to learn about and share with others how to be a real estate professional or how to market , etc. then do that on a different Twitter account. When I follow a nutritionist on Twitter, I’m looking for advice on nutrition not about what she’s doing to get her business bookkeeping in order….I’ll follow an accountant to get that information.

    I think its a process for everyone and you have to figure out what works for you and what value you are trying to gain from it as well. I’ve shifted people/companies that I’m following from my company Twitter to my individual Twitter in order to find that focus and balance.

    But what I can say is that I’ve connected with so many people, discovered resources and tools, and obtained valuable information along the way in just the short time that I’ve been on Twitter. But Twitter is just one of the tools in the business toolbox that we use.

  13. Jonathan Benya

    April 26, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Don’t feel bad, Ken. I feel the exact same way about twitter…

  14. Jay Thompson

    April 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Best use of Twitter, by far (for me) is to use it as a tool to meet people — online AND in real life. Attend a Tweetup, start one if there isn’t one around you.

    Don’t over-think it. Don’t hard sell — that doesn’t play in the social media space. Just be real and engage.

    I’ve met over 300 people, in real life, local and outside real estate. Expanding your SOI by 300 people is a pretty good thing (and yes, I’ve sold several a home or listed their homes).

    Twitter isn’t for everyone, no single tool is.

  15. Matthew Rathbun

    April 28, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Ken,

    When I first adopted Twitter, you could really connect and have genuine interactions with people. It was like a neat breakfast group to share ideas and “meet” people. As it caught on, it’s almost one constant stream of marketers.

    I’ve used Tweetdeck to filter down to about 100 core “followers” (you included) and look for opportunities to engage. I’ve never really tried to use it as a way to generate business. I just like meeting and engaging people. That said, I have gotten business from it, but only a few people since 2007. I’ve made contacts that have opened lots of doors as a speaker, but each of those was a by-product of just talking to people.

    Facebook on the other hand has been very generous to my business. When I teach classes on Technology, I’m pretty much telling agents to not spend their day talking to Realtors unless they are recruiters, brokers or trainers. It’s good to follow a few to get fresh ideas and converse but mainly concentrate on local users.

    Once I made the decision to not use Twitter to engage others and not join in the tweets about how we’re all great and all Realtors suck, I found very little commonality with many of the users I once talked to. After awhile the “#RTB” mentality was just another group trying to say they had the golden ticket to life and everyone who didn’t think as they did had no value.

    I’ve enjoyed meeting you and others on Twitter and whereas I’m nowhere near as active as I used to be, I still enjoy reading lots of the tweets.

  16. akknowsrealestate

    April 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    I apologize if someone already mentioned this and I missed it, I tried to read through most of the comments, but may have skimmed over a bit…..

    Anyway, a great reason to stay in the twitter game is for search engine visibility. Google & Bing have both struck deals with Twitter to index tweets in search engine results. So if you tweet about industry related topics and someone performs a search on these topics, it is quite possible that your tweet could show up, leading someone to click on the link, see the other [hopefully] valuable content that you provide, read your bio, and even perhaps carry on to your website.

    Additionally, for Google product users, Google has added a section in the search results pages for results from your Social Circle (this section usually appears near the bottom of the first page of the search engine results). Your Social Circle is made up of contacts that you have in your Gmail, contacts that you are connected with via other social sites (twitter, friendfeed, etc) that you have added to your Google profile, contacts from Google Reader, and secondary contacts (friends of your primary contacts). So again, if someone searches for information about which you are tweeting, your tweet is likely to show up in their Social Circle section of the search engine results.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally would rather see what someone in my social circle has to say about something before I investigate other content.

    Moral of the story, don’t give up on Twitter. At the very least, link your Facebook page to your twitter account so that when you post to your Facebook Page, your Twitter account automatically posts tweets. Note: Google & Bing index Facebook Page statuses (NOT personal profile statuses), too – so by posting to both at the same time, you have double the chance to show up in search engines results.

  17. Karen Goodman

    May 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I was also skeptical about twitter at first, and when I initially signed up, I abandoned it quickly. Then I went to a small BarCamp where I met a handful of people, including one man who took me under his wing (@tojosan). He set me up with Tweetdeck and told all of his followers to follow me. He continues to advocate for me and my real estate business. 18 months later, I find twitter is a huge asset to my business.

    As an agent who only lists about 15-20 properties per year, I will never be able to compete with the solidly established agents who have been paying for billboards and newspaper ads for years. But on twitter, I am THE agent in town. I’ve gotten several referrals, including referrals from people who I have never interacted with before. And I’ve closed deals that came directly from twitter. Currently, I’m working with someone who emailed me and said that my ‘good friend’ had told him to call me. I didn’t have a clue who this person was, and actually had to go onto twitter and ask if anyone knew the name.

    What is the secret to this success?

    It’s getting out and meeting people in real life. Start attending tweetups. Every city has them. Seek out non-realtor people in your city and friend them all. In my city, that means doing searches on #stl and #stlouis. It also means paying attention to who my friends are talking about, and who they hung out with at a tweetup. I follow all of those people…they buy into twitter and will refer people to me if we get to know each other.

    Besides sales, I’ve found two other big benefits from twitter. I get a lot of traffic to my blog, and often my twitter friends will retweet the content or post it on their FB pages. Twitter is also a HUGE resource for help when you have technical questions. You can’t imagine how many times I have tweeted asking for help…WP issues, code problems, “I just broke my blog”, which new phone to buy…the twitter tech community can be your own personal free help desk.

    One suggestion, publicly thank ppl on twitter for referrals, telling them to DM you their address so you can mail them a thank you gift. I sent out $10 Panera gift certificates.

  18. John Wheaton

    May 8, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Twitter is not a sales tool. It’s a relationship tool, an authenticity builder, and a networking opportunity. I’ve not gotten dime one out of any Tweets, but I’ve connected with quite a few professionals simply because I Twitter that I otherwise would never have met. It’s the “off the Twit-o-sphere” interaction – enabled by Twitter – where you eventually strike gold.

    @JWInfo

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

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Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

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It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

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Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

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